The irony of Tony Blair: how one of the world’s greatest neo-con “extremists” has stepped into the “extremism” debate

Last week, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, a new policy shaping institute which professes to be “helping countries, their people, and their governments address some of the most difficult challenges in the world today” released a report criminalising several Muslim organisations.

Making absolutely no mention of the grievances that fuel political violence or the pressing need to address the abuse of Muslims, the report, seized upon and quoted by right-wing media, pinned the blame for political violence on a handful of “hate preachers” as well as UK “Islamist” groups, which it claimed audaciously serve as “recruiting pools” for violent “jihadism”.

The assertions of a trajectory of violence between ‘non-violent’ Muslim organisations and political violence, coming from an institute headed by an individual who is perhaps one of the greatest warmongers of recent times, is laughable. In fact, Tony Blair is responsible for significantly increasing the risk of political violence on the streets by plunging the UK into a succession of wars despite warnings from the security services.

Close connections to despotic regimes

Following his role in the invasion of Iraq and subsequent to his role as prime minister at the time, Blair pocketed more than $30 million in oil revenues from his secret dealings with a South Korean oil consortium, UI Energy Corporation, which specialises in oil exploration in Iraq. 


Read more: War crimes we endorse: pursuing IS with impunity has created monsters

Besides this profit from mass murder, perhaps the most telling examples of Blair’s political legacy and danger to society, are his links to despotic regimes in Egypt, Libya and Saudi Arabia.

In Egypt, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s security forces have been accused by Human Rights Watch of arresting tens of thousands of Egyptians, as well as of torture, enforced disappearances and “extrajudical executions”, known in common parlance as murder. In 2013, Sisi overthrew the country’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsy, and from this has the blood of more than 1,150 people on his hands.

But it is Tony Blair who has stood behind him: in 2014, Blair wrote: “It is massively to our advantage that President Sisi succeeds. We should help him.”

Blair has also cashed in on Sisi’s leadership, stepping in as an advisor to the despot and furthering a brand of government-approved Islam which is fuel for various abusive but ultimately profitable “counter-terrorism” measures that have seen the mass curtailment of freedoms:

“Blair has become Sisi’s éminence grise [advisor behind the scenes] and is working on the economic plan that the UAE is paying for. For him, it combines both an existential battle against Islamism and mouth-watering business opportunities in return for the kind of persuasive advocacy he provided George Bush over Iraq,” wrote Peter Oborne.  


Read more: Britain and Libya: The legacy of unaccountability continues

When it comes to Libya, it is widely accepted that Blair, with the assistance of then foreign secretary Jack Straw and MI6’s Sir Mark Allen, handed over Libyan dissident Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and his pregnant wife Fatima Boudchar to Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi in return for his co-operation in the ‘War on Terror’. The Boudchars were renditioned and tortured and have yet to receive an apology from the British government since their trial moved to secret court.

Blair’s ‘business interests’

Blair’s enterprises, which traded under the name Tony Blair Associates, included Windrush Ventures, under which Blair provided consultancy services to various governments around the world. According to the Telegraph: “Windrush Ventures was set up to channel money earned by Mr Blair through a series of consultancies giving advice to governments and their leaders including to Nursultan Nazarbayev, the autocratic ruler of Kazakhstan.”

Blair has made a substantial amount of money exporting his deathly political legacy. In 2015, Windrush saw its turnover increase by a third to £19.4 million in 2015, while profits tripled to £2.6 million. According to the Daily Mail, staff working for the firm have received an average pay increase that year of more than £30,000.

Even earlier than that, in November 2010, PetroSaudi hired Tony Blair Associates, then the trading name of his two groups of firms Firerush and Windrush, to court Chinese leaders to allow access to PetroSaudi, a London-based company co-owned by Prince Turki bin Abdullah – the son of Saudi Arabia’s then monarch. According to the Guardian, Blair was serving as Middle East peace envoy for the US, UN, EU and Russia at the time.

These are just a few of Blair’s dodgy business deals and links to despotic regimes whose human rights record is abysmal. And yet he reserves the right to declare what is acceptable Islam and what is not.  It is no surprise then that last year, Blair proclaimed in an interview that “many millions” of Muslims hold a viewpoint that is “fundamentally incompatible with the modern world.” Now this year, his institute has released their report that casts Muslim organisations under suspicion.

The latest report on “jihadists” in Britain must be seen in light of these and other glaring and incriminating facts about Blair, a man who appears to be putting all his efforts into exporting his failed legacy to the world, in opposition to the sensibilities of the vast majority who are concerned with justice and peace.


Report: Criminalising Non-Violent Organisations

 

Image cc courtesy of Brookings Institution on Flikr


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